Monday, 30 December 2013

Book Review: Kontakte and Other Stories

Kontakte and Other Stories
By Jonathan Taylor
Published by Roman Books
ISBN - 9789380905648

Jonathan Taylor, author of Entertaining Strangers, has recently published an entertaining short story collection, Kontakte and Other Stories, revolving around music and the relationship it has on people's lives.

Kontakte and Other Stories is about music - creating symphonies (Must Sound Genuine), listening to music (Kontakte) but most importantly the way people live with music. Taylor explores within this collection the way that music can heal relationships but the power of music can also create divides between people (Synaesthetic Schmidt).

Taylor's writing style is confident and elegant with touches of humour throughout the collection. Many of the stories explore loss and isolation and the way music can help fill the void or even create a bigger divide. This is seen in my favourite story within the collection, A Rondo in Letters. This is a touching story, told through letters, of a son and his father who has dementia. The conflict of musical tastes and obsessions drives the family apart.

Taylor has created a collection of stories that will have the reader reconnecting to music. Either you will already know the music mentioned in the book and can enjoy the references or you will only have the basic knowledge of classical music that you learnt from school and you can go off, after reading the story, and explore the music. Taylor successfully caters for people who adore classical music with the references but he also creates interesting characters and stories for people who are not as aware of classical music.

Music lovers will love this collection along with short story fans. This is a short story collection which will not let you go even when you have finished.

You can read Jonathan's response to my Imaginary Bookshop Q&A over here and you can also read my review of Jonathan's novel, Entertaining Strangers here.

Kontakte and Other Stories can be ordered from your favourite online or offline book shop.

I was kindly sent a copy by the author. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

I'm Back From The Wilds Of Novel Writing Month


On the 30th of November I completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days with a few hours to spare. It was a long slog and at times I wanted to give up but I pushed through  and won – the words of my novel are now out of my head and on the page. My preparation work involved a table with a one sentence description for each chapter. The rest of the other details were in my head.

This means I now have a first draft of my novel along with the additional 25k written before the challenge. Those 25k words took me most of the year to write – that is why I needed novel writing month to kick me into action – I am part of the slow writer’s club! The files for my novel are sitting on my hard drive, fermenting, ready for the new year. I haven’t written a thing (except work-related or this blog post) since but I am already looking forward to ripping apart those 76,000-ish words until they make sense.

It was a perfect storm in November as well as wanting to complete this challenge there was a lot of day job pressure, and cleaning our house as we have decided to sell and move. Those 30 days of bashing at my keyboard, trying to race towards that holy grail of 50k taught me a lot of things. Firstly, it’s the quantity that matters and that the inner-critic needs to be locked away in a safe, bounded in chains and thrown to the back of my mind. Secondly, a writing routine is worth its weight in heavy laptops. Thirdly, these words are not for public consumption – there is no way I would send my novel off to publishers, agents or even publish it in the state that it is in. This is a first, shitty draft. My eyes only. Fourthly, deadlines are good!

I’ll be honest – there were tears, days where no words appeared on the screen (I spent every weekend, bashing out the words, panting to catch up) and there were one or two times (okay, each day!) when I nearly gave up. I ended up making myself ill as I did not get much sleep or rest. So don’t go dismissing this challenge – it is tough! I have told myself that I will not do it again especially with a full time job and real life demanding my attention but we will have to see...

This novel is definitely better than the one I had previously finished. Plus, it took me less time to write!